NJ businesses are anxiously awaiting the summer and banking on a strong tourist season to counteract the debt many undertook to get up and running for the busiest time of the year.
Most New Jersey boardwalks damaged or destroyed by Superstorm Sandy will be rebuilt by Memorial Day weekend.
An Associated Press survey of shore communities that bore the brunt of Sandy found only three where portions of boardwalk are not expected to be open by the traditional start of the summer season.
Seaside Heights expects the main section of its boardwalk to be rebuilt by the holiday, with the rest complete by mid-June.
Sea Girt says a three-block stretch of its 3/4 mile boardwalk won’t be finished by Memorial Day. But the town says that work should be done by June 1.
A mile-long stretch of old boardwalk on the southern end of Long Branch won’t be rebuilt this year. But a newer boardwalk and paved promenade that had minimal damage are already open.
Shore officials are eager to assure a successful tourist season, even if it means making only temporary fixes now, as in Asbury Park. That city’s commerce director, Tom Gilmour, said officials were adamant about having the entire boardwalk open the Saturday before Memorial Day weekend to show “we are back and ready.”
Here is where boardwalk projects stand, based on interviews with officials in each town:
Asbury Park: A fourth of the one-mile boardwalk was damaged, but the city was able to salvage materials to make both permanent and temporary fixes, with the goal of opening the entire boardwalk May 18. Permanent fixes to parts of the boardwalk near Convention Hall will be made in the fall. Total costs are projected at close to $3 million. For financial and environmental reasons, a tropical rain forest wood called ipe (pronounced EE’-pay) will be replaced with yellow pine.
Avon: About 80 percent of the 6/10-of-a-mile boardwalk was destroyed. It is being rebuilt with ipe, despite protests by environmentalists, with a target completion date of May 15. Costs are estimated at about $2 million.
Belmar: The borough has raised more than $500,000 in public donations through its “Buy a Board” campaign. But that is just a fraction of the estimated $10 million it cost to build a new 1.3-mile boardwalk. A ribbon-cutting is expected in mid-May. The new boardwalk is being built of Trex, a composite of wood and recycled plastic.
Bradley Beach: A nearly mile-long paved walkway escaped severe damage but a 650-foot wooden boardwalk was destroyed. The boardwalk will be replaced by concrete; township officials are shooting to have it built by Memorial Day at a cost of more than $2 million.
Lavallette: Three-fourths of the more than one-mile boardwalk was damaged in Sandy and the town is about halfway done with repairs. A “Buy a Board” program has netted more than $180,000 from 720 boards but all 10,600 are up for grabs. Total cost will run $1.3 million and expected completion is May 20.
Long Branch: A mile-long stretch of an old boardwalk on the southern end that was destroyed will not be rebuilt this year; township officials are waiting to see how much federal aid they can get for the project. North of that, a one-mile section of newer boardwalk and a paved promenade are open. The borough has closed off one lane of Ocean Avenue to traffic, making it for pedestrians only, to compensate for the loss of boardwalk.
Manasquan: Work on Manasquan’s mile-long blacktop beach walk is scheduled for completion by April 19. One-third of the blacktop was broken up and washed away. Total cost of repairs is estimated at just under $500,000.
Point Pleasant: About half its nearly one-mile boardwalk was damaged. Reconstruction on an 800-foot-stretch includes fixes to damage from both Tropical Storm Irene and Sandy. The total cost of repairs is estimated to be nearly $2 million. The borough is on schedule to complete repairs by May 23.
Sea Girt: Reconstruction on the 3/4-mile boardwalk is under way in two phases with some completion expected in May. A three-block span of the northern end of the boardwalk should be open no later than June 1. The borough will use the same Trex material it had before. It was able to salvage the concrete bases of 20 of 133 benches that will be rebuilt and placed on the new boardwalk. Total cost of boardwalk reconstruction is estimated at about $1 million.
Seaside Heights: The entire mile-long boardwalk was destroyed by Sandy, including Casino Pier, resulting in the JetStar rollercoaster being dumped into the ocean. The borough is about one-third of the way through repairs. It is on track to have the main thoroughfare up and running by Memorial Day with completion set for June 15. The borough’s $8 million in reconstruction expenses, which does not include cleanup and repairs to Casino Pier, meant a hike in daily adult beach fees from $5 to $6 for the first time in years.
Spring Lake: The two-mile boardwalk was destroyed; half has already been rebuilt. But a delay in deliveries of materials, including lumber, put some work on hold. Borough officials still intend to have the entire boardwalk done by Memorial Day. Total cost of reconstruction is estimated at $4 million.
Copyright (2013) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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Photo Credit: A worker uses a chainsaw to trim new pilings for a replacement boardwalk, almost five months after Superstorm Sandy, in Seaside Heights, New Jersey March 22, 2013. Lucas Jackson / Reuters